The very first medieval knights rode into battle in mail
[also known as chain mail]. This was a flexible armor that could
bend easily because it was made of linked iron rings. The armor was
made so it would fit the knight well, g the head and making a very heavy
tunic over the body. But mail didn't offer complete protection, it
could still be pierced by arrows. In the late 1200's knights started
to cover their knees with steel plates, and in the next hundred years,
a lot more plates were added. By the 1400's, the knight's body was
covered in plates of steel. These were all fitted well and made of
sections joined by rivets and straps of leather. It wouldn't have
been simple to fight in plate armor weighing about 50 pounds. However
, it was light enough for a knight to move pretty fast and to get up if he fell from his horse.
A Coat Of Mail
In the 1100's, when a knight leaves for war, he would
be wearing mail armor. The knight's long tunic is called a hauberk.
It came down to the knees, where it was cut so the knight could mount his
horse easier. The hood protecting the neck below the helmet is called
a coif. Underneath the mail, the knight wears a padded garment called
an aketon. This word comes from the Arabic word al-qutum which
In the 1000's and 1100's, most knights wore a cone shaped
helmet with a nosebar, or nosel. At the end of the 1100's, guard
for the whole face were made, then came the helm, [which covered the head
and face completely]. The basinet of the 1300's included a visor,
which could be raised and lowered. The fanciest helmets of them all
were designed especially for tournaments.
A knight's shield protected him from showers of arrows and can deal with fierce blows by extremely strong weapons. The design changed over the years from a long kite looking shield of the Norman's to the smaller triangular shape of the 1300's, made of leather covered wood. Plate armor made shields unnecessary.
|Special armor called a bard was made just for horses. This was originally called a trapper, made of lined cloth or mail.||Plate Armor
Around the end of the 1400's, Italian knights brought in plate armor for horses, although it was way too expensive for everyone to use it in battle.